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WG 09 – Session 2: John Piper, The Heart of Worship

August 6, 2009

My Reaction (My sermon notes of Piper below)

One Word: If God arrested my heart last night with a tough Piper cuff, then this morning He threw me in a deep, radiant cell and imprisoned me in the bondage of a love for His self-exalting glory!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist again.

Piper left us, or me rather, hanging on the edge of a theological, problematic cliff: Is God’s passionate pursuit of His self-exaltation and glory unloving? And is our own pursuit of personal joy and exultation in God’s self-exaltation selfish?

Piper’s answer last night: NO!

This morning, he took us farther down the rabbit hole, revealing to us in his typical Piperesque-way that indeed this is true. In fact, he accurately explained how not only is this seemingly paradoxical truth logical and biblical, but it is glorious and necessary and a demand and right of God and a need of man.

Piper not only answered my questions from last night, but enlightened the darkness of my confusion over this seeming paradox, applied it to my heart and led me to deep worship and embrace of it.

For that I am eternally grateful for John Piper and must say, glory to God!

———————————————-Sermon Notes———————————————-

August 6th, General Session 2

John Piper, The Heart of Worship

Texts: John 17, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, Matthew 15:8, Philippians 1:19-21 and 3:7-8

I.  Recap from last night

God’s self-exaltation is love!

Worship leaders/pastors: Appeal to your people to glory in God’s God-centeredness!

A.  John 17 – The High Priestly Prayer

B.  Assumption: John 17 prayer is an act of love from Jesus.

vs. 1 – “Father, glorify your son”

C.  Question: Isn’t this an odd way to begin a prayer for saints? This is a prayer that is toward the care and unity of His sheep, and He begins the first 5 verses with a desire to be glorified by His Father.

1st 5 verses are a prayer for His own glory.

D.  The heart and essence of His love for us is His own glory being exalted.

Why? Verse 24 explains: “…so that they may see my glory”.

*Worship has the potential to expose people for what they were made for.

E.  2 Corinthians 4:4-6

1.  What does Satan not want us to see here?

2 Corinthians 4:4 “the light of the Gospel of the glory of God, who is the image of God.”

2.  What does God, with divine engagement, enable us to see?

2 Corinthians 4:6 “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”

3.  Together, vs. 4 & 6 show how God enables our hearts to see spiritual light.

II.  Heart of Worship

* We must join God in the magnification of His glory.

III.  Question: What experience of the heart magnifies the greatness of God, and produces acts to display God’s value?

A.  Precursor to this Question: Why ask this question Piper?

B.  Answer

1.  Matthew 15:8 (crucial passage for worship leaders/pastors)

honor me with their lips

hearts are far from me

therefore: vanity, emptiness

2.  The New Testament  is stunningly silent about forms of worship. The Old Testament is very loud and detailed on forms of worship.

The Old Testament use of the word worship is very common however the New Testament use of it is nearly absent altogether.

3.  Why is it nearly gone in the New Testament?

Because in the OT God is worshipped in certain places; in the NT Jesus is worshipped at His feet and after His ascension He is worshipped anywhere anytime!

IV.  Answer to the Question of what experience: Being satisfied with God/Christ/all that God is for us in Christ.

The experience of satisfaction of all that God is for us in Christ.

V.  Biblical Support

1.  Philippians 1:19-21 [Piper’s favorite place to defend this]

How will Paul honor/magnify Christ in His body?

The word “for” tells us:

vs. 21 “for to live is Christ, to die is gain”

life (vs. 20) : live (vs. 21) as death (vs. 20) : die (vs. 21)

All for Paul equals one thing: GAIN

At the moment of experiencing gain at death, Christ is magnified.

Christian Hedonism is typically out of our control. This is why most people (atheists, religious people, spiritual people) want a religion they can manage. Christian Hedonism requires too little work and more reliance on another.

2.  To live is Christ. What does this mean?

Philippians 3:7-8

vs. 7 counted all gain as loss for the sake of Christ

vs. 8 everything as rubbish, lose all to gain Christ

Paul simultaneously couts all his gain as loss for Christ, and counts everything as rubbish to gain Christ.

Gain  = loss for Christ

lose all = gain Christ

It’s all for Christ!

V.  Application

Four Implications of Christian Hedonism

1.  If God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, then the pursuit of joy is not an option but a mandate!

We are duty-bound to pursue our own joy.

A popular philosophy exists today: pursuing some type of benefit from a good act corrupts the act. (held usually by Immanuel Kant)

Piper: This is a deadly opiate to corporate worship and preaches to the people that the pursuit of their joy is defective and wrong.

*Problem: Pastors/leaders who scold their people to stop coming to worship to gain and get but rather to give because getting and gaining is very selfish.


Piper: Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! You can’t give enough to God. Come on Sunday completely empty cause you don’t have much to offer, but a lot to gain:

joy, satisfaction, faith, love, truth, glory, etc.

*Plea* Get out of their minds the duty of serving and substitute it with the joy of pursuing joy in God!

Psalm 42 – “as the deer pants for the water…”; Piper: The deer offers nothing to the stream, nothing. It’s all gain from the stream!

*Pursuing satisfaction in Him is an obligation, not a threat to one’s ethics.

2.  This is the core of worship, and makes it radically God-centered!

It appears very me-centered: pursue my glory, my joy, get my happiness, my satisfaction, my, my my, me, me, me!

But it’s not. Why?

Example from Piper:

Piper buys roses for his wife’s anniversary. She opens the door and says, “Oh John, you shouldn’t have. Why did you?”.

Scenario 1: “Because it’s my duty as your husband, here.”

Scenario 2: “I couldn’t help myself. Nothing makes me happier than loving you.”

The difference is one is duty and obligation, the other is an irresistable pursuit of joy in exulting in another.

3.  Protects worship as an end in itself rather than a means to another end.

Too often worship leaders/pastors use worship for…

evangelism, parenting, teaching, etc.

When the delight goes from end to means it’s not real anymore. It’s not genuine.

Christ is magnified in our worship as an end, not a means.

4.  Explains/gives rise to how all of life and corporate gathering of saints are both worship.

Matthew 5:16 & Romans 12:1-2

good deeds            body as a living sacrifice

so that God                     as a spiritual act of worship

gets the glory

Matthew 5:11-16

vs. 12 – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great…

*Worship is not vain and love is real when God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him!

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